"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson


Friday, July 4, 2014

Reflections on Independence Day - Our lives. Our fortunes. Our sacred honor.

Independence Day.

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate the birth of America.

There will be parades and fireworks, barbecues, picnics, carnivals, fairs, baseball games, speeches and ceremonies, etc.

We will talk about our history and tradition.

We will speak of freedom and liberty.

We will remember our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, and the grand ideas it shows us.  The most familiar words that still guide and inform us.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Yet, when we think about this historical document, sometimes I think we overlook the driving force behind it and the sacrifices made to give birth to our independence.

I'm talking about the 56 men that signed the Declaration of Independence and quite literally signed their lives away.

The following is taken from the closing of the last paragraph from the Declaration:

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Our lives.  Our fortunes.  Our sacred honor.

We understand the first two but it's very hard to grasp the concept of sacred honor in today's society.  We hardly commit to anything and stick with it.

To put it simply in Texas Holdem Poker terms, these men we're "all in."

They held nothing back.

And their losses were many.

They lost houses and lands, children and families, their health, their fortunes, their liberty, their reputations, their friendships, etc.  For many it cost them everything, even their lives.

Every year at this time, as we celebrate, I've tried to make it a tradition to read the Declaration to my children.  I hope they will read it to their children someday.

We read the names of the 56 signers aloud and say "thank you."

I think we owe them that much.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1

Georgia:

Button Gwinnett

Lyman Hall

George Walton

Column 2

North Carolina:

William Hooper

Joseph Hewes

John Penn

South Carolina:

Edward Rutledge

Thomas Heyward, Jr.

Thomas Lynch, Jr.

Arthur Middleton

Column 3

Massachusetts:

John Hancock

Maryland:

Samuel Chase

William Paca

Thomas Stone

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:

George Wythe

Richard Henry Lee

Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Harrison

Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Francis Lightfoot Lee

Carter Braxton

Column 4

Pennsylvania:

Robert Morris

Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Franklin

John Morton

George Clymer

James Smith

George Taylor

James Wilson

George Ross

Delaware:

Caesar Rodney

George Read

Thomas McKean

Column 5

New York:

William Floyd

Philip Livingston

Francis Lewis

Lewis Morris

New Jersey:

Richard Stockton

John Witherspoon

Francis Hopkinson

John Hart

Abraham Clark

Column 6

New Hampshire:

Josiah Bartlett

William Whipple

Massachusetts:

Samuel Adams

John Adams

Robert Treat Paine

Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:

Stephen Hopkins

William Ellery

Connecticut:

Roger Sherman

Samuel Huntington

William Williams

Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:

Matthew Thornton


Time.  Money.  Freedom.

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